Getting clean from any addiction is a reason to celebrate. It takes a lot of work and a lot of willpower to get through detox and make the decision to change your life in this way forever, so you deserve a treat afterwards.
One of the ways in which you can celebrate your sobriety is by taking a holiday, but this can be a challenge to the newly-sober. Letting your guard down is a must on holiday, but what if you let your guard down too much and relapse?
Here are some ways that you can protect yourself against relapse, but still enjoy everything your holiday has to offer.
Choose your holiday wisely
Before you ever set foot on a plane, relapse-proof your holiday as much as you can. Choose your holiday destination carefully, so that you avoid places and situations that might make you slip. When choosing your destination, look for places that are not associated with drugs or alcohol. Amsterdam is synonymous with drugs, whilst places like Ibiza and Magaluf are top destinations for drinkers looking to party.
You will also want to avoid anything that might cause you undue stress, as this is likely to make you want to drink or take drugs. Look for a quiet, relaxed holiday far away from the party scene, but with plenty to see and do to hold your interest.
You might also want to think carefully about the group that you travel with. People that are looking to go for a wild party holiday are unlikely to support you wanting to avoid this scene, or help you if you feel like you are going to relapse. Try to pick friends and family members who don’t mind staying sober with you.
Identify potential triggers
When you are putting together your recovery plan in rehab, you are likely to work with a counsellor to rank situations as low, medium and high risk for relapse. Go back to this system when planning your holiday, to identify the areas which hold the highest risk for you. An all-inclusive holiday with an open bar will probably be incredibly high risk, as will any sort of ‘booze cruise’, so you’ll want to avoid these, for example.
Decide for yourself which medium or low risk options to take, but also arm yourself with a plan of action so that you do not find yourself triggered to relapse. Most triggers respond to the acronym HALT, for when you are:
So, think about the pressure points that might be applied during your holiday relating to these, and make plans to resist them. You don’t have to avoid holidays with high risk elements, just work out how you are going to avoid these specifically.
Take it day by day
This is good advice for the rest of your life in recovery, but is important to apply to your holiday as well. Even though you have planned your holiday carefully to help you to avoid triggers and keep you feeling safe, once you are there it still makes sense to check in with yourself.
The idea of taking an entire holiday without having a drink might seem impossible to you, if you have not done so before, but a day will probably seem much more manageable. Just tell yourself that you’ll get through this one day, as soon as you wake up, and congratulate yourself at the end.
Before you leave, look up local AA/NA meetings and support groups so that you know that you have a place to go if you do feel yourself slipping. You might not even need to go to one, but many people find it that much easier to get by, knowing that they have a backup plan.
Whilst the urge to drink might never bother you during the day on your holiday, if you are going on day trips and excursions and seeing new things. However, night time is the most difficult time for anyone with an addiction, as this is usually when they would drink or take drugs the most. It is also the acceptable time for the people around you to start drinking, which can be tricky for you.
Take lots of activities with you, that can help you and your travel group to relax in the evening. Games and puzzles are fun for people to do in a group if you want to socialise, or you could just bring a book that you’ve been excited to read.
Don’t forget, just because you are not drinking doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the local nightlife. Look for comedy clubs, theatre shows and performances, or even take a night tour of something cool.
Pamper yourself absolutely on holiday. You have earned a reward for all of your hard work and you need to rewire your brain so that a reward doesn’t necessarily equal a drink or drugs. Get a massage or book a half-day in a spa. Enjoy a delicious meal at a really fancy restaurant you never could have afforded when all of your money was spent feeding your addiction.
Use a holiday to find out what exactly it is that you enjoy outside of your addiction, and rediscover yourself as a sober person. And don’t hold back from spending a little extra money or time on yourself that you usually would. You are allowed to take care of yourself.
Before you can treat yourself for getting clean, you have to take the first step and make a commitment to detox and sober up. Cassiobury Court can help you, offering a detox and rehabilitation programme of up to 90 days depending on what your needs are, as well as 12 months aftercare and a dedicated recovery plan. You’ll be able to get help dealing with your triggers and working through how your addiction began in the first place, through individual counselling and group sessions.
There are plenty of activities and social events for those who are resident at the centre, ensuring that you relearn how to have fun and enjoy being around other people without being under the influence of any substances.
To get started on your recovery today, we can be reached on 01923 369 161 or you can text HELP to 83222.